Monday, December 29, 2008

Security is a surety

Hi All

at we just finished making the hostel more secure, with a better locking system on the giant gate at the front of the hostel as well as a gate buzzer and a few other measures..we have had zero problems with security, but till we got the lock system fixed we had to leave our main gate open all night long or get up to let folks in that tended to stay till the clubs closed at 5AM! So now guests can stay out all night and let themselves in...

In other news, bambu hostel is enjoying a good season with over 60% occupancy..not bad for a hostel that opened in July 2008..we also have some amazing interns that have been helping out here at the hostel, it is a great opportunity to stay for free and learn how to run a hostel if you are interested contact the hostel for an internship/volunteer..

well people, the year comes to an end. and what a year it was, we have a president with inegrity, a looming depression, all of it coupled with the hope that we can have a better day..from all of us at the hostel, Me (mike esterson) Greg lapkin, and benny olmos, blessings and peace to all..Happy new year..

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eating Healthy Food on the road

One of the great challenges of any backpacker/traveler on the journey of a lifetime is eating well. For me eating well means eating a diet that is primarily plant based and when possible organic. The problem is that in most places particularly in Central America, the diet is animal based. There is never a lack of meat and dairy products available, and there seems to be a lack of good fruit vegetables and legumes. At the hostel the debate that we are having as we try to create our bambu hostel menu is how far we can push our food ideals to others. Gregg my business partner and friend of 20 years was a vegetarian in New York City. After moving to Panama he adopted a 'local' diet which primarily consisted of chicken and white rice. After a year of that he got sick. No energy, headaches and a nagging cough. I had met a lady on my trip to David Panama in April that was promoting vitiamins, herbs and vegetarian lifestyle. She was a pioneer in David. The day i found her, I had been drinking rum the night before. I had drunk so much rum that i decided to go for a run in the 95 degree heat to sweat out the toxins. It started out ok but after an hour i realized that i had no idea where i was. David really doesnt have street names or much in the way of signs. As I walked (it was too hot to run at that point and i was dizzy) i passed by a house with a sign that said 'Vitaminas Naturales' I stopped in and was greeted by a very nice woman form Panama City that was selling herbs and vitiamins. I drank her tea and she gave me a banana for the hangover which worked. I kept her card and sent gregg to her after being sick for months. She gave him teas for his asthma and digestion and a vitamin mineral supplement powder. In a few days he was feeling better again and we both figured it was a form of malnutrition that he was suffering from..

That brings us back to menu. I want to have a menu that offers for dinner a choice of fish, vegan (with tofu or beans as the protein) or yard chicken, which is free range and organic. I dont want factory processed meat and would also like to offer some organic food as well. Gregg feels that if we do that we may cut out a large percentage of folks that want to eat pork and beef and really dont care what they eat as long as it is cheap.

The other issue is global warming. the consumption of meat is one of the top producers of CO2. Thus by offering meals that dont participate in factory meat we are doing our best to keep this world around for future generations.

Flashpacker it is described in wikipedia as "A flashpacker shares some of the characteristics of a backpacker: a sense of independence, no fixed itinerary and relatively long periods of travel to more exotic and far-flung destinations. Whereas backpacking is traditionally associated with budget travel and destinations that are relatively cheap, flashpacking has an association of more disposable income while traveling and has been defined simply as backpacking with a bigger budget" This term seems to have sprung up back in the old days of backpacking otherwise known as 2006 (it seems like such an innocent time)My question is, now that we have started this worldwide recession/depression will the flashpackers flourish? Once 5 star travelers are now slumming it with the 20 something backpackers that criss cross the various trails in Asia and Central America. They do tend to favor private rooms over dorms and they have far more disposable income then their $30 USD a day backpacking counter parts. By the way $30 a day seems to be the typical budget of backpackers, that includes food and transportation (buses). As far as alternative travel goes, Flashpacking fits in nicely. It is a style of travel that seems to call for more gadgets to record the journey as well as stay in touch with family and business while on the road. That is why all hostels everywhere find themselves providing so many extras to satisfy them. This includes high speed internet, printers, computers and cable television. An entire industry has sprung up around this demographic as well and now packs with all kinds of extra storage for laptops, cell phones and GPS systems abound. I recently purchased the URL and I intend to start a site that will be a meeting place for traveling flashpackers, a .mobi site that will be easily viewed on the high tech PDA that they all seem to carry.

Summer Time and the living is easy (in Panama)

Summertime finally has arrived at bambu hostel in David Panama. What does summer mean in Panama. First it means that the rains have mostly stopped. Panama has a long rainy season from May-November. In Panama they don't say rainy season, they say 'green season' or dry season, which is summer. At the Hostel our new Pool is the center of attention. For some reason we seem to popular in the early summer months with Girls from Finland. These Finish ladies travel in groups of 3-6 and are fair-skinned sun worshippers. It must be ungodly cold in Finland now!
We also just opened our bar which unveiled a few challenges. The first is the challenge of a drunk backpacker. I called Gregg last week (I'm still in woodstock) Gregg who lives in Panama year round suffers through a nearly 24 hour job these days. The other night he was fast asleep when he awoke to see what he thought was a drunk backpacker in his room. Gregg yelled at him to get out of his room at which point the guy picked up greggs little dog Izzy and tossed him on to gregg's bed. Gregg was not happy and pushed the guy out of the room. When he got up a few hours later he saw that the bar had suffered some damage, a broken speaker wire and broken glass.

Later when the australians awoke he sat down with them and asked them what was going on. Apparently the 7 foot tall Aussie suffered from a severe form of sleepwalking and had done the damage and gone into gregg's room all while asleep!

Gregg should get some kind of award. He is really amazing he never loses his temper and treats all the guests even the more challenging ones with tremendous respect.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mumbai events and impact on central american backpackers


I was thinking about the overall effects of the attacks in Mumbai where backpackers were targeted at the Cafe Leopold in particular would Israeli Backpackers begin to avoid India and instead increase their numbers in Central America. The fact is that Central America and in particular Panama is very safe in general for the backpackers. It is an alternative to traveling to restive spots on the globe. As alternative travel becomes increasingly popular decisions regarding destinations will more than likely be based at least partially on issues of political stability and geo-political realities.
At Bambu Hostel we are gearing up for a great season and welcoming folks that might have been South Asia bound.